Hillwood Fresh Food – Introduction
The Hillwood Fresh Food stand at the Harvest Launceston market is a compulsory stop for us to stock up on their range of fresh, exotic mushrooms for which they are renowned.
Here they always have very fresh mushrooms of very high quality. But, it is also the range of mushrooms that they offer which attracts our attention.
Enoki, the exotic Lion’s Mane and King Oysters are often available along with more traditional options such as Oyster Mushrooms.
Hillwood Fresh Food fits our philosophy well given that they use no systemic sprays, they generate the electricity for the farm using off grid solar and also minimise the waste produced through their processes.
Hillwood Fresh Food – Lion’s Mane Mushrooms
At present, we get most excited when we visit the Hillwood Fresh Food stand at Harvest Market and find Lion’s Mane mushrooms available.
These are extraordinary fungi (the scientific name is Hericium erinaceus) which can grow quite large (up to 10 kilograms in the wild), however they are generally considerably smaller from Hillwood as they have been cultivated.
There are many claims for the health benefits of these fungi. They are supposed to be good for the brain and for our gut bacteria and there is considerable medical evidence to this effect. We will add some references to scientific/medical research into the benefits of these fungi over the coming weeks.
But, the main thing we like these fungi for is their delicious flavour! When we bought our first batch of these mushrooms we decided that a simple risotto would be a perfect way to get to know the texture and flavour of this product.
We decided to use our standard “layering” technique for the risotto which first involves sweating a finely chopped onion in a neutral oil (we like the Canola Oil from Hill Farm on Tasmania’s North West Coast). When the onion is almost translucent we add a couple of teaspoons of finely chopped garlic and carefully and gently heat it for a few minutes until it is cooked. We then add the rice (we like the Ferron Vialone Nano variety) and cook it for a few minutes and then add a chicken stock or vegetable stock depending on whether we care catering for vegetarians or vegans.
We add enough stock for the rice to gradually absorb it over the period that it is cooking (usually 12 to 15 minutes). You don’t need to add small amounts at a time over this period.
A few minutes before the rice is ready, we add a handful of the finely chopped Lion’s Mane and carefully stir the rice so that the fungi are incorporated into the dish. When the mushroom is cooked we add parsley.
When the risotto is ready to serve we add grated Parmesan cheese as a final layer of flavour.
This is but one use of this versatile mushroom. We also make vegetable soups, stews and other dishes that require a umami hit.
Another transformation you can make if you want to keep it over an extended period is dry the mushrooms in a slow oven or a dehydrator which will dramatically reduce the volume of the mushrooms. Normally, these mushrooms are approximately 90% water so the reduction in volume is significant. You can then put the dried mushrooms is a blender or spice grinder to make a powder which can be used sparingly in almost any dish to add a flavour hit.
Hillwood Fresh Food – Other Mushrooms
All of the other mushroom types sold by Hillwood Fresh Food can be used in a similar way to the Lion’s Mane variety or in conjunction with them.
We have sometimes been able to buy Elm Oyster Mushrooms from Hillwood. These are a more refined version of the Oyster Mushroom which are slightly more delicate with a thinner top.
You can read more about the offerings in the Harvest Launceston market by reading our article at the link below which mentions Hillwood Fresh Food.